Moto3 Austin: Antonelli masters the wet for COTA pole

Niccolo Antonelli secured pole as he mastered the changing track conditions after earlier downpours to claim his first pole of the season ahead of the Austin Moto3 Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.
Moto3 Austin: Antonelli masters the wet for COTA pole

Niccolo Antonelli found the best line around the drying COTA track to snatch pole position after the weather had been a big enough disruption to cancel FP3 entirely ahead of the Austin Moto3 Grand Prix.

The SIC58 Squadra Corse rider had been attempting to match the pace of Darryn Binder - who had dominated the early part of Q2 after arriving full of on-track confidence after joining the session as the fastest Q1 rider despite a late tumble - when everything seemed to click for the Italian as a dry line appeared and the sun arrived.

The Honda man’s best of 2m 31.346s remained fastest by over half a second as the chequered flag waved, handing him his first pole since Qatar 2018 and first front row start of the season.

Rookie Raul Fernandez climbed to second in the closing stages, the Angel Nieto KTM team rider came close to the top spot on the grid but his final lap saw him find Ayumu Sasaki on track at just the wrong moment, swiftly followed by a determined pass on Tony Arbolino, with both moves stealing valuable seconds the Spaniard was forced to settle for second, marking his first front row start in Moto3.

The final spot at the front of the grid went to Gabriel Rodrigo, the Gresini rider giving everything on his final assault of the track to climb to third.

Jaume Masia used his Q1 experience to help him get up to pace quickly around COTA for fourth for Bester Capital Dubai. He is joined on row two by Binder for CIP Green Power, who faded a little after that dominant start to the session, and Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) who clung on to sixth despite a late tumble.



Tatsuki Suzuki was competitive enough on the second SIC58 Squadra Corse entry for seventh, completing a strong day for the team.

John McPhee will start from eighth for Petronas Sprinta Racing, Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) ninth with Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) completing the top ten after coming through Q1.

His team-mate Lorenzo Dalla Porta saw his hopes dashed after a late crash saw him drop to eleventh.

Romano Fenati had been in total control in Texas in the dry and topped both of Friday’s sessions, but the Snipers rider failed to make an impact in the wet, leaving him down in twelfth.

The tricky conditions caught out Qatar winner Kaito Toba, Filip Salac, Tom Booth-Amos and Vincente Perez in Q1, with the latter needing a stretcher to leave the track after being violently flicked off his bike at turn fifteen. Ayumu Masaki slipped off halfway through Q2.

Albert Arenas is still absent following his operation - Aleix Viu sits in for him again at the Angel Nieto Moto3 team, he starts 27th.